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EDITORIAL: Cuomo increases New York’s carbon emissions

For yet another example of how the actions of climate alarmists don’t match their rhetoric, consider New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Gov. Cuomo has long touted the urgency of reducing carbon emissions. In 2019, he signed into law an ambitious carbon reduction plan. It requires New York to have a 70 percent renewable energy portfolio by 2030, complete zero-emission electricity by 2040 and an 85 percent reduction in emissions by 2050.

“Climate change is a reality,” he said, “and not to address it is gross negligence by government and irresponsible as citizens.” In a 2019 statement, he went further, arguing, “The existential threat of climate change is real.”

The phrase has been thrown around so much that people barely notice it anymore. But it’s important to take a moment to remember what it means. Gov. Cuomo is asserting that climate change threatens mankind’s very existence.

Yet if those truly are the stakes — and a great many scientists will tell you that such statements are unhelpful hyperbole — then shutting down a carbon-free power source and replacing it with fossil fuels should be out of the question. But that’s exactly what Gov. Cuomo has done.

For decades, the Indian Point nuclear power plant provided electricity for New York. Its annual output was substantial, equivalent to around a quarter of the power used by New York City.

Nuclear power creates carbon-free electricity. Despite years of subsidies for solar and wind power, nuclear power produced more than half of the nation’s carbon-free power in 2020, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

But Gov. Cuomo has long wanted to shut down the plant, which is 25 miles away from New York City. At the end of the month, he’ll get his wish. The company that runs the power plant spent $200 million trying to get state approval to continue operating but to no avail.

But New Yorkers’ demand for power won’t decrease over night. To make up the difference, the state will need more power from natural gas plants. That’s what happened last year.

New York’s share of natural gas power went from 36 percent in 2019 to 40 percent in 2020 after one of the Indian Point reactors was shuttered. Nuclear New York estimated that each of the plant’s two working reactors generated more “electricity than is produced annually by every solar panel and wind turbine in the state.”

State officials claim that an offshore wind plant and other renewable projects will eventually make up the difference. Perhaps.

But the world can only afford trade-offs like that if global warming isn’t the “existential” threat people such as Gov. Cuomo claim. Given his actions, that appears to be the case.

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